On a Sunday

Sometimes life just happens.

“Hi Liza! It is so nice to see you!”

Liza rolls down her car window.“Grocery pick Up? Hm, Liza smiles waving her hands at Robert. “How is everything going?”

“ Nothing much, just holding on.Time to time, I come to pick up groceries.” He says, “I have a great idea! Why don’t you come to my house in the evening today?We will chit chat and have a good time.”

Liza looks startled. She does not want to visit during this pandemic time. “Let’s wait a few more weeks.” 

Robert did not take his gaze off Liza. He insisted Liza that she should come to his house. And Liza could not deny the request of his friend, so she agreed to visit on the condition that they should have a mask on and keep 6 feet of distance. 

“Sure! You got it.” He replies with a nod.

In the evening, Liza arrives at Robert’s townhouse. Robert opens the door and his dog wags his tail ears pricked and then trotted forward. He is vibrating with eagerness to see Liza.Rex padds up to Liza and thrusts his nose into her hand.

“It’s okay,pal.” Robert rubs the special spot behind the dog’s ears.”Liza, this is my dog Rex.” In the shadows of the darkened room Rex looked more like a wolf than a dog but a very handsome one. At the living room wall, Liza notices a most extraordinary painting of Budha.

“Stunning!” Liza says. “Certainly brings so much peace just staring at his face!”

“ It was done back in my college days.”

“ You are so artistic! Are you still painting?” Liza asks, still glancing at the painting.If she moves her head to the right or left, certain brush strokes subtly change their tint. In other places the surface is so smooth the color must have floated onto canvas.

“ You should display in it our department!” Liza suggests.

“No, no I prefer it to be in my home.I am not that great.” he walks towards the painting. “ My grandmother had a quick eye for fine art and she helped me a lot in teaching me how to draw and paint. Now I do paint in my spare time which is available plenty now.” He laughs.

All this spilled out of him, from a math Professor! Unbelievable. He adjusts his mask and pulls two chairs for them to sit. “ I am excited for the online classes to start! How about you?” 

Liza leans back on her chair. “ I am glad but I hope the pandemic will leave so that we can go back to our normal life.” she sighs!

Robert pulls out one of his artwork from behind the table. “This is another painting I just started.” He puts the painting on his desk. “During this strange time, when yo are cooped up inside your house, creativity finds it ways.” Liza nods her head while casting  a closer look at the painting. It is a picture of a Beach front- wooden benches on the boardwalks face the sea, all empty. Circles of light under the boardwalk’s long rows of street lamps and the lamps have receded to a vanishing point. In a distance the waves are coming in. A few birds are pecking on the sand for food. Liza sighs. “ So realistic!

“ I was there last week. It was so quiet that you could forget the sidewalks and wander in the middle of them anywhere. The digital billboard ads blared, beaming down on nobody.” Robert says moving the painting from the desk.

Liza sits straight on her chair and says,“ Yesterday, I was talking to one of my elderly neighbors whose wife has a severe memory problem. She had been acting strangely for several days-not eating properly or responding when her husband speaks. A few days back she was disoriented and very anxious. It got so severe that he had to call the ambulance and guess what, her test came out to be  positive for the Corona virus. He does not know what is going to happen to his wife.”

“It is really sad!” Robert changes the story. “ I heard that you like photography. Is it true?”

Liza smiles. “I do in my spare time which I also have plenty. My first camera was a present from my grandfather. I was enthralled by the magic one could create in the dark. It has been ten years since I had sat down with my family and announced my decision to pursue a career as a photographer. The news landed with the force of a grenade in my home, although I was at a loss to understand why. My country has changed so much! I read in the newspaper how young ladies in my country are changing the old norm and embracing the new. It should have been obvious that I was  passionate about taking pictures. But the scene in the elegantly appointed living room of my parent’s home still rang in my ears. “ Liza, photography is just a hobby,” my mother said. “ You can continue that even after your wedding. I’m sure that Das’ family will not mind at all.”

At that point I informed my parents that I will not marry. My mother was first horrified and then finally, furious. My father had warned me that if I continued with my crazed plan to become a professional photographer then he would cut off all the financial support until I came to my senses.

I did not want to marry the person whom I don’t love. He is indeed a handsome, charming man, Liza reflected. On the surface, he appeared to be everything a woman in her world could ask for in a husband, But she does not want to marry at all because she knows for sure that after the wedding is over, her in-laws may not allow her to pursue her dream. She wanted to create art,pictures that make people stop and take a second look. Things have changed since then. I decided to take a teaching job in the university and my photography has stayed just as a hobby, like the way my mother predicted.”

“ It is indeed a interesting story!” Robert laughs. 

Liza pushes the chair back. “ I should get going because. It is really nice talking with you.”

“Please call me or stop by if you get bored.Hopefully in a month we will be able to get back to our classes.”

“ I hope the same.” Liza says.

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